How To Pop-Lock: Ticking & Strobing

Ticking, also known as "Strobing," is a pop-locking body illusion that makes the dancers look like they are walking through a strobe light.  To get an idea of what the end result looks like, imagine watching someone walk across the street while you are blinking rapidly.  Your brain only can process a limited number of frames per second, making the movements very choppy, as if you were watching a poorly made cartoon.

  1. First, start with the basic head strobe.  Starting with your head turned to the left, practice turning it to the right in small increments, making very obvious starts and stops, like a robot coming to life.  These small increments are often called "Ticks."  The key is to tighten your neck muscles, which makes the illusion look more precise.  Turning from left to right completely should be done in no less or more than twelve ticks; any more and you're making your strobe too obvious, and any less will make the strobe look too gradual.
  2. Once you've got the head strobe down, try a basic arm strobe.  While standing, stick your right elbow out so that your upper arm is parallel to the ground, and your right forearm is dangling.  In choppy movements and tightened muscles, swing your forearm around your elbow in a circular direction like the hand of a clock.  It should take about 20 ticks to completely swing your arm around.  Once you've got that down, try strobing with two arms at once in opposite directions -- one clockwise, the other counterclockwise.
  3. The walking strobe is one of the more difficult strobes, because it uses both the upper and lower halves of your body at the same time.  First, practice walking in a very animated and stylistic fashion.  Make big steps and liberally use your arms in the walk.  Once you've invented an animated walk, practice the arm movement of that walk in choppy movements while standing in place.  Be sure to tighten up your arm muscles to enhance the illusion.  Once you're satisfied, begin practicing walking in choppy movements.  Balance is often difficult when strobing because you're moving in slow motion, so it's okay to make less subtle ticks when walking.  A single step can often be done in only six or seven ticks, as long as the top half of your body is ticking well.
  4. Once you've mastered strobing while walking, you'll have the fundamental skills to do anything while strobing.  Try doing basic household chores, such as sweeping, or try getting up from a chair.  After you get the hang of it, mimic doing the same motions without the broom or chair, to give you a full mime-like quality.


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